The PDF version of this notice is available here
Date: December 31, 2021
From: COVID-19 Task Team and HFN Council
Re: COVID-19 Update # 30 – COVID-19 Cases in HFN, New Years Celebrations, New Changes from Ontario
Aaniin Hiawatha Citizens,
As you are aware the Omicron variant has a rapid rate of transmission. Hiawatha currently has 10 positive cases of COVID-19 and approximately 30 people are self-isolating.
We ask that you please stay home with your immediate family (those with whom you live) for News Years Eve and New Years Day, and over the next few weeks, as we try to mitigate the spread of this highly contagious COVID-19 variant in our First Nation.
In response to this outbreak, and along with other measures taken, HFN has now closed:
- ● The Fitness Facility for the month of January 2022.
- ● Cancelled massages for the month of January 2022.
We will keep you updated if any further closures/changes are made.
Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT):
Our supply of tests is minimal at best, however we do have more tests coming in early next week and will arrange for our Citizens to have access to them.
Please Note: These tests are now very hard to obtain and they should not be used for the purposes of gathering, they are to be used if you start to have symptoms of COVID-19 or been in contact with a person with COVID-19.
Recording RAT Test Results:
Peterborough Public Health is asking all residents to record their rapid antigen test results in this voluntary and confidential survey. In the event that testing and contact tracing capacity cannot keep up with cases, PPH will be using these survey results as a surveillance tool. You can open the hyperlink: Record your Rapid Antigen Test results to record your results, or visit the Peterborough Public Health (PPH) Website at: https://www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-case-and-contact-guidance/
Residents will only be contacted if they test positive and wish to be contacted by Peterborough Public Health for follow up.
We have just arranged for PCR testing to take place here in HFN next Wednesday, January 5, 2022. More information to follow once final details are complete.
HFN Vaccine Clinic:
The Hiawatha Clinic is still scheduled for January 15, 2022 for those eligible to receive their third dose (booster) and any person who would like to receive a first or second vaccine.
Further to the provincial changes in Update #27 (dated December 17, 2021), the Province announced significant changes to the pandemic response in light of rapid spread of the Omicron variant, see below:
1) Testing and Case and Contact Management Changes in Response to Omicron
Effective immediately, the province will be using new provincial guidance related to prioritization of eligibility for PCR Testing and Case and Contact Management in Ontario. The key highlights of the changed include:
- ● Symptomatic PCR testing will be available for high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk health care settings.
- ● Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are presumed positive and they should follow isolation and/or self-monitoring guidelines.
- ● Testing for asymptomatic contacts of cases is generally no longer recommended, except for high-risk contacts/individuals that are part of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk health care settings, and as recommended by public health.
- ● Positive rapid antigen tests will no longer require PCR testing confirmation.
- ● Based on the latest scientific evidence, individuals with COVID-19 should isolate for five days if they are fully vaccinated or under the age of 12, and if their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours at the five day mark.
- ● Publicly funded PCR testing will be available only for those at-risk of COVID-19, and workers, residents in high-risk settings like hospitals, LTCs, retirement homes, and congregate living. (See chart on pages 3 and 4).
- ● First Nations are included under the “high-risk” setting and you should be able to book a PCR test.
For more information, please review the Backgrounder for Updated Eligibility for PCR Testing and Case and Contact Management Guidance in Ontario
Peterborough Public Health (and other public health units in Ontario) are shifting thier focus for case and contact management to the most vulnerable populations in the highest risk settings. They will no longer be supporting contact tracing among the general public or workplaces (unless part of one of the eligible groups), and should be directed to seek exposure guidance through Ontario.ca/exposed. The following flow-charts may also be of benefit:
2) Enhanced Vaccine Certificates:
As a reminder, effective January 4, 2022, the use of the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate with QR code (for every patron) and the Verify Ontario app (for businesses) will be required where proof of vaccination is legislated as per O. Reg 364/20. This means that for your facilities that are required to check POV and identification of all patrons prior to entry, they will need access to a device with the Verify Ontario app in order to be compliant with their POV and identification checks on and after January 4th, 2022. Attendants at your facilities will need to use the app to scan the QR code on each patron’s enhanced vaccine certificate AND confirm the identity of the patron by matching the personal details on their identification to their enhanced vaccine certificate.
Verify Ontario is Ontario’s official mobile application for businesses to scan COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination at the point of entry. Visit the Verify Ontario webpage for more information on the application. We will share the updated guidance documents and frequently asked questions, when they become available.
Please Note: The enhanced vaccine certificate/proof of vaccination status is for those with 2 doses, at this time. Health Officials however are stating that 3 doses is considered “fully vaccinated”.
Please Note: For those needing a negative PCR test for doctors appointments or return to work, please speak to your doctor or place of employment as these requirements may change with the changes to testing in Ontario.
You can download their enhanced vaccine certificate by visiting https://covid-19.ontario.ca/get-proof/, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to have their vaccine certificate mailed.
3) Isolation Period:
Ontario also changed the required isolation period based on growing evidence that generally healthy people with COVID-19 are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. Isolation requirements include:
- ● Individuals who are vaccinated, as well as children under 12, will be required to isolate for five days following the onset of symptoms. This also applies to household contacts.
- ● The isolation period can end after five days if symptoms are resolved or improving for at least 24 hours, and all public health and safety measures, such as masking and physical distancing, are followed. Should one of your household members test positive the five day isolation period starts again for all household members.
- ● If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, are fully vaccinated, have no symptoms and don’t live with the positive case, you are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days since you last interacted with the case and adhere to all public health measures when outside your home.
- ● Individuals who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immunocompromised will be required to isolate for 10 days as risk of viral shedding persists.
- ● Individuals who work or live in high-risk health care settings can return to work after 10 days from their last exposure or symptom onset, or from their date of diagnosis.
Students will not return to in-person learning until Wednesday, January 5, 2022, and staff will be provided N-95 masks at schools and licensed daycares.
There will be several short-term measures implemented at schools, such as virtual-only school-wide assemblies and more cohorts at lunch and recess for elementary students.
Updated vaccine eligibility rules, effective immediately, for residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, elder care lodges, and older adults living in congregate settings. Individuals in these settings are eligible for a fourth vaccine dose if three months have passed since their third dose.
6) Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT):
Rapid antigen tests are also being preserved and prioritized for high-risk settings.
Further restrictions for large indoor venues start 12:01 a.m. Friday. The capacity limit will now be 1000 people of 50% of capacity, whichever is lower.
Infectious disease experts have said the actual number of new cases is likely far higher than those reported each day so please follow all health and safety protocols.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols:
Practice physical distancing of at least two metres (6ft) with those outside your household.
- ● Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so.
- ● Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
- ● For the best protection an N95 mask should be worn, if you are not fitted for an N95 mask, the next source of protection is a surgical mask. If you do not have either of these available a cloth mask will be your next source of protection.
Please Note: As noted in the December 29th Update (#29), we will keep you informed of any further changes that arise. Please watch for updates on our Website, Social Media Pages and through email blasts. To help us in our communication efforts, please share any updates with your family, friends, neighbours who may not have access to social media.
As a reminder, our offices will be shut down from December 20, 2021 for two weeks, opening January 3, 2022. If you require any supplies due to self-isolation regarding COVID-19, please contact Administrator, Trisha Shearer at 705-977-0755 or Executive Assistant Amy Bickmore at 705-957-3307 or Loni Thomson at 705-760-3018.
Once again, we know this isn’t the update you wanted to read, we thank you in advance for your efforts in keeping yourself, your family, your neighbours and Community safe.
“Our Citizens and Community remain our first priority and we will work to mitigate risks for best possible outcomes moving forward through the COVID-19 pandemic.”